NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge has been spending many of his afternoons in the batting cage and in the video room, searching for solutions to the mechanical flaws that are believed to be responsible for a midseason swoon. He may be about to solve this puzzle in front of the entire city.
Judge hit his American League-leading 36th homer on Monday evening as the Yankees defeated the Mets, 4-2, in the annual renewal of acquaintances between the crosstown rivals. For Judge, his second homer in all of August highlighted his introduction to the Subway Series.
"I've been feeling good," Judge said. "Everything right now, I'm seeing the ball well. I've just got to keep swinging at the right pitches. They've been pitching me tough on the corners. When I get a pitch out over the plate, I just can't miss it."
In a statistical quirk, Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez all hit their 40th career homers in the victory, with Judge clearing the right-field wall with a game-tying shot off Rafael Montero in the sixth inning.
"I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help out the team," Judge said. "We were down a run there. My main goal was to get on base. Our big motto has just been pass the baton. Pass it on to the next guy and there I was able to get a pitch I could drive and help out the team."
The Yankees improved to 22-11 in games when Judge has homered this season, having won each of their last four.
"Very encouraging," Hicks said. "He's a guy on this team that we need to produce, and he's definitely that guy that can do it."
There are a variety of explanations for Judge's dip, one of which is that pitchers are attacking him with more high fastballs and hard sliders. His exit velocity, ground-ball and line-drive rates have all dipped, producing a .177 (19-for-107) average with six homers and 13 RBIs since July 7.
That was the last contest in which Judge did not strike out, owning a streak of 31 consecutive games that is one shy of Adam Dunn's 2012 single-season record. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he is seeing better adjustments and balance from the 6-foot-7 slugger.
"It's driving it the other way, which tells you that mechanically he's more sound," Girardi said. "When we look at him, yeah, he's pulled some home runs, but we've seen a number of them to right field and center field. He's made some adjustments and he's more comfortable in the box."
While the Yankees were happy to see Judge rewarded, he said that the more important part of the equation is his growing comfort at the plate.
"It's about the process," Judge said. "If I feel good and swing at the right pitches, I'm happy with it. Everyone would like results, they'd like to go 4-for-4, but in this crazy game you play, you might go 4-for-4 but have four terrible swings. You might go 0-for-4 and have four great swings. For me, it's all about the process. Keep working every day and just keep battling."